Jatory Evans, via Twitter

Jatory Evans, via Twitter

A man charged with murdering his pregnant girlfriend as well as her parents and torching their home in Old Jefferson last year killed himself at the Jefferson Parish jail on Wednesday, according to officials.

Jatory Evans, 29, apparently hanged himself in his cell at the jail in Gretna, Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich said. 

Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman Glen Boyd said Evans was taken to a hospital after being found about 4:25 p.m. and was pronounced dead a little more than an hour later. 

Cvitanovich said his office will be conducting an autopsy on Evans. No other details were immediately available. 

Authorities said Evans stabbed his estranged 20-year-old girlfriend, Sydney Hanson, in an upstairs bedroom of a home in 4100 block of River Road on Nov. 7 before igniting the room while she was still alive. She was seven months pregnant.

He also fatally shot and stabbed Sydney's mother, Samantha Hanson, outside the home, and he killed Sydney's father, Dwayne Hanson, by shooting him twice in the head in the kitchen, authorities said.

Investigators arrested Evans at his home in New Orleans early the next morning.

Even though he maintained his innocence and offered investigators an alibi during questioning, prosecutors eventually charged him with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree feticide.

He could have faced the death penalty if convicted of those crimes.

Authorities suspect Evans had a history of abusing women. Before the Hansons' slayings, he had been accused of threatening to set a prior girlfriend on fire during a domestic dispute.

Friends told investigators he had also abused Hanson, becoming jealous and controlling after she ended their relationship.

As smoke poured from the Hansons' home after the killings, a witness saw a man fleeing in a blue car.

A detective later testified that the Sheriff's Office established Evans had rented a blue Hyundai Elantra in Baton Rouge and that images of the vehicle had been captured on license plate recognition cameras as it entered Jefferson Parish the morning of Nov. 7.

When authorities searched that car as well as another vehicle, they found blood matching that of Sydney and Samantha Hanson.

Evans also had wounds on his hands that could have been caused by a weapon with a sharp edge, according to deputies. He claimed he injured himself working, but he was unable to explain how and failed to tell his bosses he was hurt, deputies said.

Evans’ uncle, Jared Parker, was charged as an accessory to first-degree murder. Parker, 28, who lives in Baton Rouge, was accused of helping Evans rent the car and falsifying information when he was questioned about the killings. He was arrested within days of Evans' capture.

Parker has pleaded not guilty. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Evans served in Afghanistan as a sergeant with the Louisiana National Guard and practiced mixed martial arts. He had unsuccessfully applied for a job with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.

Sydney Hanson worked at the gift shop at the Audubon Zoo and was due to attend a baby shower on the day she was killed. Her parents worked at Laitram Machine Shop in Harahan.

In a statement, Dawn Hanson, the sister of Dwayne Hanson, said Evans' death spared her family from having to endure "never-ending court dates and a painful trial." She also thanked Jefferson Parish authorities for their work on the case. 

"For the past 324 days, our family has mourned the loss of our three loved ones that none of us could ever imagine our lives without, and a baby girl that we could not wait to meet," Dawn Hanson's statement added. "Barely a moment has gone by without tears shed for those we will never again get to talk to, laugh with or be able to hug again.

"We will continue to try to live our lives to the fullest, as Dwayne, Samantha and Sydney did, and always encouraged others to do the same. ... We look forward to healing as a family and never having to stare evil in the face again." 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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